The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 with the purpose of separating East Berlin/East Germany and West Berlin/West Germany. The wall covered a length of 155 km (96.3 mi) and existed for 28 years. The fall of the Berlin Wall occurred on November 9, 1989. The process of German reunification began the following year in 1990. Portions of the Berlin Wall still exists today as a reminder of the country's history.
Why Was the Berlin Wall Built?
The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France formed the Allied powers that conquered Germany after the end of World War II. These Allied powers divided Germany as well as its capital city Berlin into four zones. However, the Soviet Union's relationship with the three other powers quickly disintegrated. For instance, in 1948, the Soviet Union blocked all supplies from reaching West Berlin, a case which came to be referred to as the Berlin Blockade.
In 1949, the three regions of Germany occupied by Great Britain, United States and France united to form the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany. The region taken up by the Soviet Union made up East Germany or the GDR. Construction of the wall began on August 13, 1961. The Berlin wall which stood for 28 years underwent four significant transformations in its construction. Starting August 13, 1961, a barbed wire fence was raised with concrete posts. The fence was replaced three days later by concrete blocks topped with barbed wire to make it more permanent and sturdier. In 1965, steel girdles were used to support the concrete. In 1975-1980, concrete slabs were added on the wall making it more thorough and complicated. The Berlin wall was about 91 miles in length, twelve feet high, and four feet wide. The top of the wall consisted of an enormous pipe which made it impossible for it to be climbed.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
The fall of the wall of Berlin began on November 9, 1989 when the wall was officially opened following the Cold War that had thawed in many parts of Eastern Germany. The Cold War forced the head of the East German communist party to review the relationships of his city with regions in the West. The leader announced that citizen of the FDR and the GDR were free to cross the border at any time. Upon this announcement, crowds swarmed the wall from both sides of the wall. Some crossed freely while others came with picks and hammers and began chipping the wall away. The wall was chipped into pieces that have been conserved in homes and museums. Some of the collectibles on the wall are conserved in the Berlin wall memorial Bernauer state. A month later, citizens of East and West Germany were able to cross the wall freely without needing visas. The fall of the wall of Berlin was the first step towards the unification of Germany which occurred on October 3, 1990. The official demolition of the wall began on June 13, 1990 and was completed in 1992.